MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The first measurable look at how the pandemic has impacted students in Tennessee shows learning loss across the board. A state reports shows significant losses in learning for many Tennessee students.
Sharing the first statewide data report on student progress since the start of the pandemic, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee says there’s a lot of work to do. The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program shows a decrease in every grade level for reading, math and science skills.
“We’ve seen stark learning loss across our state and some of the numbers are very sobering.” Gov. Lee said.
State leaders say remote learning has disproportionately impacted minority students with the greatest losses shown in elementary reading.
“What the data isn’t going to show is how much our educators and school systems have mitigated some of the larger losses we’ve seen in other states,” Tennessee’s Commissioner Education Penny Schwinn said.
Following a visit to Shelby County last week, Schwinn says Dr. Joris Ray’s focus on literacy will go a long way in helping students bounce back from this learning loss.
“I’m very grateful and excited and motivated that they are investing a tremendous amount of resources in early literacy,” Schwinn said.
The state says its strategy moving forward will be investing in more individual tutoring and summer programs to help students be grade level proficient by graduation. According to the report this could take 3-5 years to happen.
Schwinn is optimistic that students will bounce back effectively. “I have every bit of confidence that we will come out of this stronger on the other side but we have to operate with a sense of urgency on behalf of children.”
Because if this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we are stronger together.
“Together we can meet those challenges. We have to meet those challenges. Our students are depending on that and the future of our state depends on that,” Gov. Lee said.
WREG-TV reached out to Shelby County Schools for a response to the TCAP and was sent the following message.
As one of the largest urban school districts in the country and faced with weighing “loss of life” and “learning loss,” Shelby County Schools (SCS) has and will continue to prioritize the safety of employees and students.
“While COVID-19 has unveiled what we knew to be historic academic inequities for students in Shelby County, especially economically disadvantaged families, I am proud of the innovation that was demonstrated by our educators throughout this pandemic, and I am confident in the commitment and resilience of our Academic team, teachers, support staff and students as we forge ahead in preparing students for success in learning, leadership, and life,” said Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray.
Memphis is home to some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the U.S. and the District recognizes the many areas of opportunity considering the most recent state-level TCAP results. While learning loss and achievement gaps have dominated the past school year, the common theme among districts throughout the country is the need to both properly assess and provide support for academic opportunities at all grade levels. With the support of ESSER funds, SCS is using research-based strategies (see below) to help students overcome learning loss while also continuing to bridge the equity divide across our District.
Reimagining Education and Restructuring SCS Academics
Following extensive evaluations to assess our current academic benchmarks, the District is narrowing its focus toward improving our academic structure and the alignment of departments to ensure SCS has the most effective leaders in the right positions.
After a review of the TCAP assessment data and while evaluating the impact of school closures on learning outcomes, SCS is optimistic that our Reimagining 901 plan will transform the educational experience for students in every community regardless of zip code.
Research-based Academic Strategies
The District recognizes the academic and socio-emotional impact of the pandemic and is working to bolster and strengthen our instructional supports and practices that include but are not limited to the following strategies:
Strengthen Early and Continuing Literacy- Teachers in grades K-2nd will receive yearlong foundational skills training to help improve literacy rates for students by the 3rd grade.
Class Size Reduction – As part of our plan to reimagine education, by reducing the adult-to-student ratio from 1:25 to 1:13, we expect to give our youngest learners the strongest start possible.
Before and After School Tutoring- High dosage/low ratio tutoring sessions during the school day (TN all Corps) will create high-impact learning experiences, focusing on re-teaching content, and connecting prerequisite skills to grade-level content.
Data from each school will be used to differentiate instruction for identified students in grades K-12 who will participate in a robust, comprehensive after-school tutoring program designed to support their academic needs and remediate student learning loss.
Enhanced Professional Development & Accountability Measures- Certified teachers will provide additional, individualized instructional support in End of Course (EOC) classrooms, in a small learning environment.
Tiered support of professional learning will be provided to teachers, principals, and central office staff to build capacity on being a 1:1 school district.
ACT Prep – SCS continues to offer resources, tools, and programs to help students prepare for the ACT. Teachers, administrators, and counselors also participate in training sessions that show how to use ACT data to drive instruction at the school, classroom and student level.
Naviance Technology – Students have access to an innovative planning tool designed to help parents understand students’ interests, strengths, and needs, so they can individualize support to help them reach their goals. Naviance also offers unique readiness content and activities to help build knowledge and strengthen students’ competencies.– Shelby County Schools